I feel as though there have been a couple of social news items over the past few days that have given bloggers a bit of a bad rep. It’s frustrating, as it’s only in the last couple of years that bloggers have really started to become respected writers and influencers, and the blogging community has worked really, really hard for this. So I’ve decided to write a post about it, with the hope of helping to restore any lost faith in us bloggers.
First the Daily Mail
I don’t make a habit of reading the Daily Mail, I find it toxic at best, but when an article spreading over Twitter referred to “the sick truth behind the great ‘wellness’ blog craze” I had to read it… kind of like that awful car crash you have to turn your head at.
The article, while raising an important point and awareness of eating disorders (something I have opened up on my blog to having my own experience of), was written entirely for shock factor and makes alarmingly sweeping statements about bloggers. And when a fellow blogger and journalist surmises that “[wellness bloggers] hide their eating disorders in plain sight, inadvertently encouraging their followers to do the same” I can’t help but feel a little conflicted.
Does suffering from an eating disorder disqualify me from being a health and fitness blogger?
I’m educated (I have completed two nutrition qualifications with the Open University, as well as Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Pilates certificates), I do my research, and I am open and honest to a level that I feel is appropriate. Of course, there are things I will keep to myself – but I’ve written about my experience with negative body image, something which encouraged a huge wave of support and appreciation for my honesty… something which people related to.Does suffering from an eating disorder disqualify me from being a health and fitness blogger? Click To Tweet
I try to show, through my blog and social media, the bad right along with the good, and the not-so-healthy right along with the angelic (I may well be guilty of posting more pictures of carbs than any other fitness blogger out there – I’m not ashamed!). I think my weekly training diary is a prime example of that, and the time I talked about giving up half-ironman training.
Social media highlights
I agree that there are an awful lot of carefully curated photos in the social media world, especially on Instagram, and the sad truth is that the bloggers with more desireable bodies are more often than not the ones with the biggest followings, regardless of how they achieve them. After all, if you’re looking for inspiration on Instagram it’s more than likely going to be for superficial reasons… it is a photo sharing platform. This ultimately puts a lot of pressure on those posting the perfect pictures to maintain that image, as well as putting pressure on those following them, and other bloggers, to achieve the same.
This is just one of the reasons why a balanced feed is so much better for everyone all round – that and it’s, well, honest! The best bloggers out there are the ones who show the highs and the lows, are relatable, and who know how to communicate with their readers.The best bloggers are those who show the highs and lows and are relatable. Click To Tweet
And if you want any more on this subject, Tess, aka The Fit Bits, wrote a very good piece explaining the show-reel nature of social media, which I strongly recommend reading, as well as Zanna’s brilliant post on the importance of positive role models in health and fitness.
Finally, I praise Celia for opening up and speaking about her demons, and I hope that she gets all the support and love she needs to make a healthy recovery.
Now on to #BloggerBlackmail
If you don’t know this story then you clearly don’t spend enough time on Twitter!
To cut a long story short, a blogger contacted a small independent cafe and bakery and suggested they work together. The owner invited the blogger to come to her store for a review. When the blogger arrived at the cafe she quickly realised that the offering wasn’t in line with her (in my opinion, inflated) expectations and she asked for more. The shop owner balked, the blogger threw a diva strop, suggesting she would write a negative review, then proceeded to post defamatory images and statements on her social media channels.
The cafe owner, clearly angry and concerned, wrote a (in my opinion, excessively personal) blog post, in anticipation of a negative review, explaining her side of the story. The blogger then responded.
It’s clear from the to-and-fro that the blogger’s expectations were not communicated in advance, and the store owner had also not set a precendent of what service would be provided in returns for a review. This is the key point guys – communication is king. Had the blogger voiced her expectations up front, the bakery may have stated their concerns and both of them could have avoided this whole embarrassing debacle.Communication is king. Set expectations out upfront to avoid #BloggerBlackmail Click To Tweet
But instead, the blogger got stroppy, the cafe owner got personal, and they both came out of it probably a little bruised.
I have been a blogger now for nearly three years, and in my entire career I have never seen someone be so self-righteous. Blogging is a “jobby”, meaning that first and foremost it’s a hobby, and secondly you might get some compensation – whether that is monetary or in the form of gifted items. We are lucky to have this privilege. Yes, privilege… not entitlement.
I remember getting my first review item, and being so excited and grateful when it arrived. I am still like this with every opportunity I get. To this day. I always make an effort to be polite, 99.9% of the time I respond to emails, whether I’m interested or not, and I always try to be gracious and grateful. I hope that the brands I have worked with would say that of me too.
For a very well written, humerous, and 100% on the money blog post, check out Six Out Of Ten’s thoughts on the topic.
FYI – I love macarons, and would happily do a review for a few morsels of the tasty little buggers!
Regaining our reputation
Ultimately it all boils down to two qualities (clearly, among others) that bloggers must have:
- Honesty – how can we expect our readers to trust us if we’re not honest? We rely on our readers having trust in us, otherwise we lose what a blog is and have no more credibility in a person’s eyes than an advert or a z-list celebrity.
- Integrity – how can we expect brands to want to work with us if we’re not honourable, moral, noble and decent? I know my blog wouldn’t have gotten to where it is without working with brands and publications.
This post is a hell of a lot longer than I’d hoped it would be, but I hope that by voicing my opinions on the topic, and what I believe to be the opinions of a lot of other bloggers out there, I can restore some hope that we’re not all fraudulently running around the internet and social media claiming to be perfect beings (according to the DM), and that we’re not all out to bag ourselves free meals, or free anything, let alone gifts way above that reasonably offered. I want to rid social media of the recent blogger bad rep!
You may also notice that I’ve linked through to a few fellow bloggers articles in this post, something which comes naturally to most bloggers, and highlights the importance of community and working together to build a strong and unified group of sensible and hard-working bloggers.We need to build a strong and unified group of sensible, hard-working bloggers. Click To Tweet
Naturally, the links to the toxic Daily Mail, the disgruntled blogger and the defensive bakery are all “no follow”… I think they’ve had quite enough of an SEO boost the last few days!
What are your thoughts on the topics discussed? Do you agree with my views and how I hope bloggers are perceived? Even if you don’t, please feel free to comment below and join in the conversation!